Nature or Nurture? Andersen Gabrych Talks "Batgirl"

When a person moves out of the shelter of their parents' home they often discover that the world is more beautiful and more ugly than they imagined, even if that person comes from Gotham City. Cassandra Cain AKA Batgirl is currently discovering this in the pages of her self-titled DC Comics book. After the events of "War Games," Batman sent Batgirl to Bludhaven to become one of that city's defenders. CBR News spoke to "Batgirl" writer Andersen Gabrych about Batgirl and how she's adjusting to life on her own in the big city.

As a child Batgirl was trained by her father, the notorious assassin, David Cain to read and interpret a person's physical responses. She did not learn how to communicate with spoken language, she learned how people communicate with body language. "Batgirl isn't a normal person," Gabrych told CBR News. "I was born in Japan. When I was a kid, I was part of a language study because I was fluent in Japanese as a kid, but I can't speak it now to save my life. They discovered that all children up to a certain age around three are capable of learning to make any sound. They are also capable of perfect pitch to about that point because there are so many languages that actually work on a pitch system. All children barring physical problems are capable of this, but your body shuts down the possibility so you can focus and Batgirl's brain didn't develop the same way so she's a little stunted."

The language that Batgirl learned had its drawbacks and advantages, like making her a natural detective. "She has the brain for it. I think that the ability of deduction and being able to put together pieces is very much apart of what her language is. She could walk into a room and automatically know what's different; that sense that something doesn't seem right. She's not a psychic and can be easily fooled, but as far as her initial response to things, her physical space is what she knows."

For Gabrych, Batgirl's action oriented physicality is one of the traits that make her so appealing to write about. "It's a unique DC book because its one of the only characters for whom action equals character development. In that's how she thinks and that's how she deals with the world."

Two of Batgirl's personality traits will shape Gabrych's run. "I feel like curiosity is actually her biggest thing right now," Gabrych said "She's increasingly introspective. I think she's sort of discovering introspection is sort of where I'm starting with her."

Batgirl's journey of self-discovery is also a result of her move from Gotham to Bludhaven. "If this were a TV show it would be a first year college show or the first year out of college. That's kind of where I'm seeing it and it ends up taking an incredibly personal journey about six issues down the line, where that initial introspection kind of becomes too much for her to not go and figure some stuff out about her past."

Batgirl is adapting quickly to life on her own in Bludhaven. "Batman was very smart, it was time for her to do this," Gabrych told CBR News. "She's very excited about it. There's only one thing that she ever wanted for herself and that is to be Batman. Not necessarily replace him, but to be that and yes, hopefully, one day to be his successor officially. She knows that this is a huge part of that. She is also learning that one of the reasons that Batman does his fight is Gotham. Gotham matters to him personally and deeply. She knows for her to be him, to be as good as him, she has to have that kind of relationship."

Part of Batgirl developing a meaningful relationship with Bludhaven is interacting with its citizens while she is both in and out of costume. Gabrych plans to introduce a regular supporting cast for the book, noting they'll become a huge part of the book. "One is Brenda, the pink haired woman, who owns the little coffee shop that Cassandra has taken to going to. There's a boy in the shadows, his name is Zero. He's going to make an appearance every few issues. Little mentor moments. Actually, he has some kind of keys into Batgirl's past that she wasn't necessarily aware of."

Batgirl's interactions will also lead to a little romance. Gabrych said that our lead will see a little bit of a love life, but that it'll develop down the line.

Batgirl is not the only hero operating in Bludhaven. Robin is currently there and Nightwing will eventually be returning to his old stomping grounds. Neither of these heroes will be featured in upcoming issues of "Batgirl." Gabrych did say, though, that Batgirl would be a bit of a presence in "Robin."

One hero that Batgirl will be encountering in future issues is Oracle A.K.A. Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl and her former mentor whose relations to Cassandra have been strained as of late. "Oracle got frustrated with Cassie and called her stupid because she refuses to learn how to read," Gabrych explained "In Oracle's mind, she made no obvious efforts to learn how to read. That very much hurt Cassie and I think Barbara feels enormously guilty. It's not like Cassie's an easy person to mend fences with."

Fences aren't necessarily mended when Oracle and the rest of The Birds of Prey appear in issue 67. Gabrych said, "We're going to see Cassandra find out why Barbara left and what her whole opinion is on what happened in 'War Games.'"

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Because of "War Games," Batgirl never expected to see her fallen friend Spoiler again, but the character does appear at the end of issue 61 and in issue 62 of "Batgirl" and Gabrych teased that won't be the last readers will be seeing of her. "Spoiler, even though dead, for me is still actually a fairly large supporting character," Gabrych said. "The springboard for me into why she's going on this journey of introspection is the idea that something really actually did matter to her once and she did lose it."

Issue 63 and 64 of "Batgirl" will have tremendous impact on Cassandra because Bludhaven crime boss, The Penguin, hires Deathstroke the Terminator and his daughter, The Ravager to kill Batgirl. "The two issue story is called 'Could Have Been'," Gabrych explained. "The whole thing is essentially that's what she could have been. Her life was supposed to be that she was to be her dad's right hand man."

The Deathstroke story will also show some more of the training Batgirl received as part of her upbringing. "She's not just kung-fu girl," Gabrych said. "She's also been completely trained in all weaponry. Mirroring what's going on in 'JLE'."

Gabrych promises the showdown between Batgirl and Ravager in issue 64 will be a spectacular brawl. "It's a really interesting fight," Gabrych said. "I have to say its one of my favorites. The entirety of issue 64 is pretty much all out fight."

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The fall out from Batgirl's encounter with Deathstroke will lead to her asking many questions and an ongoing mystery. "That sort of sends her into questioning nature versus nurture and makes her wonder, 'Who's my mommy?'" Gabrych told CBR News. "So, she's going to go on a quest to find her mother and then she'll come back to Bludhaven."

Readers may have noticed that although Batgirl is not a talkative person, although her internal monologue is quite the opposite. This will be affected by what she learns about life and her past. "She started off this journey with this kind of enthusiasm to learn how to speak better and her internal monologue was very chatty and a lot of people responded to that," Gabrych said. "I did that on purpose because she's going to kind of lose the enthusiasm for words as time goes on. Her being so chatty was a choice and if people notice the reduction of that as were going on, it's purposeful."

In future issues, Batgirl will be encountering a number of villains, including Shrike and possibly Brutale "We'll be seeing a lot of Bat villains coming up. We're going to be dealing with Shiva, of course, and we're going to be seeing the Al Ghul women. Talia will be around and we're going to be seeing a bit more of Nyssa because I really like that character."

Gabrych is pitting Batgirl against villains that will have personal resonance with her. "Ravager, for me, is a perfect foil for her," he explained. "Gemini from the Brotherhood of Evil is a perfect foil for her in a lot of ways; with her having a villainous mother and what does that mean. Not just that in sort of powers, a shape shifter would the hardest thing for Cassie to fight as far as she can't read it."

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The villainous parents of these characters pose personal questions for Batgirl. "What is her legacy? One of nature or nurture? She's a nature or nurture character right now. That's really the core of. That's her curiosity," Gabrych said."What am I and what can I become? What are the things out of my control? What are the things in my control?"

With "Countdown" and a number of high profile DC mini-series on the way, a number of big events will be affecting the DC Universe. Batgirl will be part of these events, but Gabrych was unable to reveal any specifics. "I'll just say those events when applicable are definitely reflected within the book," he told CBR News. "As far as her having an integral part in any of those things I can't say."

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